Louisiana news briefs
Lawmakers revive debate over surrogacy births
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Lawmakers aren’t giving up on efforts to create a regulatory framework for surrogacy births in Louisiana, even though Gov. Bobby Jindal rejected the bill last year.
Surrogacy is the arrangement when a woman carries a child to birth for another couple.
Louisiana law currently has few regulations governing surrogacy. It isn’t illegal in the state, but contracts between a couple and its surrogate aren’t enforceable in court.
Supporters of the bill say surrogacy births are taking place without clear guidelines on the legal rights of the parents, the surrogate or the child, and they want to put limits in place.
Jindal sided with religious groups that raised ethical and moral concerns in vetoing the measure last year.
Those same disagreements remain.
Attorney says police jailed him on checkpoint criticism
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A Baton Rouge-area defense attorney known for criticizing the use of sobriety checkpoints was handcuffed and taken to jail early Wednesday after exiting the passenger side of his vehicle while intoxicated and informing his driver of her right to refuse a sobriety test, police said.
Attorney David Rozas, who is representing fellow lawyer Jarrett Ambeau, said Ambeau was targeted and jailed without cause on a misdemeanor count of interfering with an officer because Ambeau defends alleged drunk drivers for a living.
Rozas said Ambeau believes his Facebook page, called “Baton Rouge DWI Checkpoints,” may have contributed to his booking into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.
Ambeau, who also practices law in Ascension Parish, manages a Facebook page called “Baton Rouge DWI Checkpoints” that publishes the locations of sobriety checkpoints.
In an affidavit of probable cause, Cpl. Mickey Duncan wrote, “While beginning field sobriety testing, the passenger, (Ambeau), exited the vehicle and aggressively began to approach (me), yelling for the driver to not take any tests.”
Duncan described Ambeau as “highly intoxicated,” adding that his actions interfered with the officer’s investigation.
$8.3M allocated for road widening in Thibodaux
THIBODAUX (AP) — An $8.3 million project to widen Thibodaux’s main commercial roadway is expected to begin later this year with completion scheduled for 2015.
The work will bring North Canal Boulevard to four lanes and bike lanes will be added.
“We think, and I know the state agrees because they’re helping us fund this, is that it’s going to be a safer design with reference to being a four-lane boulevard where the median is a center turn lane, as opposed to being a two-lane with the median a center turn lane,” Mayor Tommy Eschete said.
During construction, North Canal Boulevard is expected to be closed to daytime traffic. St. Patrick Highway, which runs parallel to North Canal, is suggested as an alternate route.
Officials anticipate the project to go to bid this summer with construction beginning before the end of the 2014.
A portion of North Canal that doesn’t require widening will receive a small face-lift. The road will be milled and overlayed, and its shoulders will be converted into bike lanes.
“You’re going to have a completely new road surface from Louisiana Highway 308 to its intersection with St. Patrick Highway,” Eschete said.
Earlier this year, the city completed a pedestrian walkway on the Canal Boulevard Bridge.
The widening project, which has been in the works since 2010, will be paid for with state and federal money.
Orleans Parish Prison
inmate dies after fight
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman says a jail inmate has died after a fight with another prisoner.
Philip Stelly says the man’s name is being withheld until his family is notified.
He says deputies quickly broke up the fight, which broke out about 10:20 p.m. Saturday in one of the tents used as housing since 2006.
He says the man did not have any visible injuries but complained of trouble breathing and collapsed 10 to 15 minutes later.
Stelly says the man died at the Interim LSU Hospital early Sunday, about two hours after the fight.
The parish coroner autopsies all inmates who die in custody.
A suit brought by inmates and the U.S. Justice Department complained of violence.
The sheriff’s office is operating under a consent decree in that lawsuit.
Baby sea lion joins
adults at Audubon Zoo
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A sea lion pup has joined the two adults at the Audubon Zoo.
A news release says Zoey arrived in mid-December and is now on display with 26-year-old Lilli and her 27-year-old sister, Sushi.
Zoey was born on June 15, 2012, at Utica Zoo in New York.
Sushi and Lilli both weigh about 200 pounds and Zoey weighs 92 pounds.
Sea lions are native to waters off the California coast.
More teachers leaving Lafayette schools
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Records show more teachers have resigned from their jobs in Lafayette Parish public school classrooms in the past two years than have resigned in any comparable period in recent history.
The reason for it is in dispute.
A teacher union representative said an unpopular teacher evaluation system and state-mandated policy changes are prompting more teachers to resign, but school system administrators say teachers are citing other reasons for leaving.
According to data compiled by the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators, a total of 343 teachers resigned between January 2012 and December 2013. That compares to 225 resignations in the three-year period between January 2009 and December 2011.
Mosquito populations low
LAFAYETTE (AP) — This winter’s record low temperatures seem to have held off Acadiana’s mosquito population, at least for now.
Glenn Stokes, owner of Mosquito Control Contractors Inc., the company contracted to provide mosquito control for Lafayette Parish, said the mosquito count is unusually low for this time of year.
Stokes’ traps have caught 282 mosquitoes this month. Last year, the number was 381 at this time.
Stokes said he is reminding residents to remove standing water from property to avoid them from becoming breeding sites.